Friday, September 11, 2009
Coach Profile: Jim Calhoun
Looking Back: Calhoun entered the year with a team that had not won a postseason game and a squad that was full of talent but hadn’t reached their potential. He had a dynamic backcourt and a strong frontcourt but they hadn’t found a way to take their game to the next level. The roster was also full of seniors and it was now or never to show the finished product on the floor. The talented forward, Ater Majok, was deemed ineligible and Calhoun’s work in progress center, Charles Okwandu, fell to the wayside too. But he had Kemba Walker and the late arriving Stanley Robinson. The team battled hard through Big East play, lost in an epic game against Syracuse, and found it’s stride through the NCAA tournament, ending with a Final Four banner.
The Good: No one in the college basketball ranks has a better eye for talent then Calhoun. He simply has the vision for under the radar talent that he can mold into quality stars and role players. He stuck with Price and made him a second round pick. He molded Thabeet from a mid-second round pick last year and into the second pick in the draft this year. It is this ability that has made Storrs a beacon for top talent. Even though he draws elite players, he doesn’t coddle them. It is his toughness on his players pushes them to overcome and surpass their own expectations.
The Bad: He has been battling health issues from cancer, stomach issues, to self-inflicted broken ribs. While this is all beyond his control, it is troublesome to see him miss games, especially in the Big Dance. He is also unashamed to catch-and-release talent and this year is no difference in Scottie Haralson. This policy has caused the careers of Marcus Johnson and Curtis Kelly to stumble into mediocrity. Calhoun has also let his emotions get the best of him with his press conference outburst that had the Mayor of Connecticut shaking her head.
Looking Ahead: Calhoun is retooling and not rebuilding this year with a core nucleus of Dyson, Robinson, Edwards, and Walker to solidify the roster but Calhoun will need to mold his incoming frontcourt into shape and in a hurry. Okwandu, Majok, Coombs-McDaniels and Oriakhi are all inexperienced but talented. If he can solve that puzzle then he should have a solid squad to make a run at the conference title and become a tough out in the Big Dance.